In 1996, Barbara E. Jackson, RN, at that time, Public Health Program Administrator in the Cancer Control Program, Pennsylvania Department of Health, recognized a critical need to promote cancer awareness within the minority community. In response to that need, Barbara worked with key community leaders in the Harrisburg Area to establish a locally-based cancer coalition. Inviting other interested parties to join this endeavor, the coalition strengthened to spread the message that education, prevention and early detection can save lives. This effort brought together representatives from the worlds of Public Health and the Religious communities. This organization was originally known as the Collaborative Meeting, Strategies For Recruiting The Minority Population. The group decided to change the name. In 1996, Clare Jones, the first chairperson, suggested the name, CATALYST. This present title, Central Pennsylvania Coalition United to Fight Cancer CATALYST, was agreed upon by the charter members on December 18, 1996. The group became incorporated in 1999.
A community-based organization, CATALYST, is in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, area churches, civic affiliations, and local health care agencies. The members are comprised of cancer survivors, lay persons, professionals, visionaries, and clergy. "CATALYST" is defined as one that provokes significant change. With the dedication, sacrifice, and hard work of CATALYST members and its partners, health efforts in the minority community have expanded to include women, men, girls, and boys. The CATALYST mission is to improve the cancer survival rate of ethnic and minority persons in central Pennsylvania and statewide. By using culturally sensitive approaches, CATALYST promotes the benefits of early detection. While the initial focus has been on breast, cervical and prostate cancers, the group continues to address other cancers and cancer issues.
Throughout its history the group met in various locations. In 1997 the Goodwin Memorial Baptist Church located at 2447 Green Street, Harrisburg, PA graciously opened its doors to CATALYST as a meeting site for 15 years. The meetings were held on the second Monday of each month. The meeting site has moved to a new location, at the Giant Super Food Store Community Room, 2nd Floor, 2300 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg, PA. The meetings continue to be held on the second Monday of each month. Today CATALYST members remain united and committed to battle the devastating effects of cancer in the central Pennsylvania region. In the future CATALYST envisions expanding the battle statewide and nationwide.
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